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Gatundu North locals set to miss out on Uwezo loans

Sunday August 26 2018

Uwezo Fund

Gatundu North MP Wanjiku Kibe. She wants Mwihoko Sacco investigated over claims that it has not remitted to Uwezo Fund loan repayments deposited in its accounts. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MARY WAMBUI
By MARY WAMBUI
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Hundreds of women, youth and persons living with disabilities in Gatundu North constituency are set miss out on Uwezo Fund loans due to existing debts by other groups.

Since inception of the revolving fund in 2014, Kiambu County has received over Sh215 million with Kikuyu, Limuru, Lari, Ruiru and Thika town sub-counties receiving the largest shares of over Sh18 million each and the rest, including Gatundu North and South, receiving over Sh17 million each.

Uwezo Fund CEO Joseph Kirubi told Sunday Nation that out of the total Sh17,872,226 allocated to groups of women, youth and persons living with disabilities in Gatundu North constituency, only Sh2,092,230 has been repaid.

PAYMENT

A policy requirement that each constituency repays 50 per cent of the total amount loaned to its groups to encourage repayment of the interest-free loans is the one blocking Gatundu North's special-interest groups from accessing the funds.

"The defaulters are telling us that they deposited their loan payments through a local Sacco, which was to remit the money to Uwezo.

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"The Sacco only remitted Sh282,000 to us. The rest cannot be accounted for. We do not even know how much was involved because the Sacco, I hear, is no longer operational," Mr Kirubi said.

MWIHOKO SACCO BLAMED

Gatundu North MP Wanjiku Kibe has called on the director of public prosecutions, Mr Noordin Haji, to investigate Mwihoko Sacco over the claims.

"I personally feel that Gatundu North's Uwezo Funds issue is a scam. I am calling on the DPP to launch investigations into the issue because Sh17 million was disbursed to groups and about Sh2 million was paid back but the rest wasn't.

"The group members have pointed an accusing finger at Mwihoko Sacco, where they said they used to deposit their payments," said Ms Kibe.

RECEIPTS

Mr Kirubi, on the other hand, has invited the members who paid their loans through the Sacco to forward their deposit receipts to the office of the deputy county commissioner so that the board can conduct a follow-up.

"We cannot tell whether all the defaulters were paying back through the said Sacco, that is why receipts are important evidence in this matter.

"All Saccos are under a regulatory body, if the allegations are true, action will be taken against the said Sacco," Mr Kirubi added.

ALLOCATION

Gatundu North is the only constituency in the county without a single commercial bank.

The kitty, an economic empowerment initiative launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta following his election in 2013, aims at boosting entrepreneurship amongst the vulnerable groups at the constituency level.

Initially the Fund was allocated Sh6 billion, which was meant to be shared amongst all the constituencies in the country; with each constituency getting an initial equal allocation of funds alongside additional funding in line with the poverty index of the region.

Groups have a six-month grace period to invest the funds before they can begin repaying back the interest-free loans.